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Nipun Malhotra v Union of India
The Supreme Court heard a writ petition challenging the imposition of Goods and Services Tax(GST) on products meant for the aid of persons with disabilities.
‘A normal person need not pay tax for walking. But a disabled person needs to pay 5% tax for walking’ .
Most of the disability equipments are imposed GST at a rate of 5%.The Attorney General (AG) for India, K K Venugopal, informed the bench that further to the discussions held with the Ministry of Finance on the issue, it was conveyed to him that it was difficult to accept the plea of the petitioners. The AG said that while he understood the difficulties of the petitioners at a humanitarian level, mere imposition of tax cannot be held to be infringing the fundamental rights so as to warrant judicial interference.
In response, Senior Advocate Pinaki Mishra submitted that the imposition of tax resulted in denial of equal opportunities for the differently-abled persons and created barriers for them to access the resources available to other people. The GST on disability aids was also a violation of the guarantee of equal opportunities made by the Rights of Persons with Disabilites Act 2016. Justice Chandrachud said that the court had doubts about whether it can interfere with a policy decision to impose tax. In matters related to taxation, the scope of judicial review is very narrow, the judge told the senior lawyer.
The senior counsel replied that the decision to impose GST is taken by the GST Council and the Ministry of Finance only executes the Council’s decision. Therefore, he sought liberty to move a representation before the GST Council seeking waiver of GST on disability products. Civilized jurisdictions waive tax on products meant for disabled persons. Accepting the counsel’s request, the Supreme Court granted liberty to the petitioner to move a representation with the GST council for zero GST on disability products. The writ petition is posted after three months to await the decision of the GST council.